Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 12 August, 2018

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter

We are writing to you, as councillors and campaigners for our interlinked cluster of villages, to keep you informed of local issues involving the District and County Councils. If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please reply asking to be removed from the distribution list. If you know of someone not receiving this newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to contact, or


We attended and spoke at the Marley Eternit appeal hearing on 26 June, together with the Meldreth Parish Council Chair.

The appeal has now been dismissed by the government Inspector. This means that the proposed development of 150 homes on the disused portion of the live Marley Eternit factory site in Whaddon Road, Meldreth, won’t go ahead. The application had already been unanimously rejected by the South Cambs District Council Planning Committee before the developer took it to appeal.

Essentially, the site was deemed by the Inspector to be unsustainable in its detachment from the village of Meldreth. Residents would have been separated from the existing community, and public transport links are almost nil – resulting in a dependence on cars for getting around locally.

Once again, a huge amount of time and effort has been spent by parish, district and county council members and officers on a speculative planning application arising directly out of the protracted collapse of the South Cambs Local Plan – a situation now coming to resolution.

The Inspector’s case can be read by clicking ‘Decision and Outcome’ here.


We attended a meeting with senior management at TTP, Melbourn Science Park, to learn more about their ambitious expansion aspirations.

As set out in its public consultation event at the Melbourn Hub, the company hopes to expand to the rear of the Melbourn Science Park and increase its workforce by a third, by building and occupying cutting edge premises designed to impact very little on the countryside and to create a fertile environment in which to work.

Please contact Jose or Philippa with any questions. The application can be viewed on line.


For anyone navigating what can be a bewildering world of health services, and coming across stumbling blocks, please do make use of Healthwatch, designed as an advocacy service for health service users.  CEO Sandie Smith has said she welcomes direct contact – you can reach her at  More about Healthwatch here.


The way Police services are delivered in the villages has clearly changed.  In recent years Police Community Support Officers were often out and about on village streets, and the quarterly Neighbourhood Panel public meetings meant that any interested residents had a chance to be informed about what was going on, and to convey their concerns in person to the Police.

That visible presence has gone.  Anyone who now subscribes to eCops will be aware of the daily reporting of incidents around South Cambridgeshire villages – some less significant but others giving cause for concern.

Recently, Susan met with a Cambridgeshire Police Inspector to understand the reasons for change, and to seek reassurance that our community is not being ignored.  Key points made to her:

  • Police priorities are domestic violence, modern slavery, sexual offences, child sexual exploitation, dwelling burglary. This involves focusing on issues of vulnerability and harm and shutting down criminal gangs.
  • Terrorism and cybercrime are dealt with by the Home Office.
  • South Cambs has a very large number of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers ‘who want to do more’ – suggesting that there is capacity for ‘community resilience’ via community groups.
  • The Crime and Disorder Partnership is the engine for district-wide problem solving and deals with hare coursing, fly tipping and ‘nightmare neighbours’.

Work in progress:

  • Better direct liaison with the parishes and councillors.
  • A quarterly on-line survey to be introduced via all channels including eCops, twitter, school student mail, etc – designed to facilitate anonymous reporting.

Useful resources:

  • Crime mapping at Cambridgeshire Insight.
  • Report a crime on-line – anonymously if you like: (click ‘Report a Crime’ at the top of the page.) You can also subscribe to eCops via the website.

We’ll be proposing that Police representatives are invited to meet the parishes to help impart these changes to ways of working, and also to make sure local concerns are heard.


Thanks to everyone who has been in direct contact with us about difficulties with train services.

In the wake of the catastrophic introduction of the May 20th Thameslink timetable, Govia Thameslink implemented an ‘Interim Timetable’ on July 15t.h – designed to restore basic stability ahead of building back to full service.

On the basis of user feedback, the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group and Community Rail Partnership has brought to GTR’s attention unacceptable peak time gaps and the justified perception that the three stations are being sacrificed for the bigger picture.   In addition, a representation has been made to the Inquiry by the ORR (Office of Rail and Road).  To address the key question of viable commuting lifestyles to and from our stations, and the restoration of the full timetable, a meeting with GTR has been agreed next month.

Meanwhile advice is being shared on compensation, and particularly ‘consequential costs’ – not widely advertised by train operating companies but to which rail users are entitled.  There is further concern that the compensation framework offered by GTR does not allow claims against the missing peak time service now embedded in the interim timetable.

All of this and more information at


Meanwhile Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP will be visiting South Cambs on September 13.

This presents an ideal opportunity for him to meet Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail Users and to learn first-hand our concerns about regularized peak time gaps in the Interim Timetable, unfair compensation anomalies and limitations, and the future of decent services in an area where people have settled precisely in order to travel and commute by rail – dependent not only on the train operating company but also on up-to-scratch Network Rail infrastructure.


Mr Grayling has been invited to address the South Cambridgeshire Conservative Association at a champagne reception at Longstowe Hall, 7PM for 7:30PM start – tickets are £40 and available from BBC Radio Cambs Presenter Chris Mann will moderate the discussion.


We asked if Mr Grayling could fit rail users in at some point earlier in the day, but apparently, he has no spare time.   Hopefully at least he’ll be able to experience the train service for himself on his journey up.



It’s understood that the preferred option for the final Oxford-Cambridge ‘East West Rail’ link will be announced in the fourth quarter of 2018.  This will almost certainly see the final Bedford to Cambridge link running via Bassingbourn, Whaddon, Meldreth and joining at Shepreth, though without passenger access unless Bassingbourn Barracks is developed.  It is understood that only the one option will be published for consultation.

We attended a presentation by the Cam Bed Rail Road group (CBRR), chaired by retired civil engineer Brian Bell and introduced by County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley, setting out an alternative option that would follow roughly the A428 corridor and serve existing and future settlements at St Neot’s, Cambourne and Bourn.

The window of opportunity to consider alternatives options is now limited.  All welcome at Shepreth Village Hall on 25 September, 7:30PM, to hear the CBRR presentation and learn more about a potentially important alteration to our area.


Susan submitted a question to the July full council meeting:

‘Given the state of ‘managed decline’ of the County Highway network, which is reflected in the dramatic jump in numbers of pot holes reported and compensation claims made thus far in 2018, should the County Council be reviewing and increasing its network inspection schedules?’

The response states that inspection schedules need not be increased and claims that the Highway network is not in fact in a state of managed decline.  This came as a surprise to us!

You can read the council’s response here.


This month sees contrasting changes to bus services across our villages.

The subsidized 127/128 service has now been amalgamated into the 127, with a mix of tweaks but essentially needing a significant injection of support.  The Campaign for Better Transport invited the Cam Vale Bus User Group to contribute to its feedback to the Mayor in conjunction with his Bus Review, together with the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group and other public transport campaigners.  Susan attended this meeting. The strong consensus was that bus franchising should be deployed.  As we’ve reported previously, current arrangements for funding this service are unsustainable and the future beyond this financial year is unknown.

We’ve requested copies of the new 127 timetable for The Limes Bassingbourn and Elin Way Meldreth Community Rooms, plus parish clerks in all villages served – or it’s available on line.

The Stagecoach 26 bus running from Royston through Melbourn, Shepreth, Foxton and Harston has now been replaced by the Stagecoach ‘Busway A’, part of the Guided Busway network and running all the way to St Ives via Trumpington Park and Ride, Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge Station, Cambridge North Station, and up the Busway.  This is a commercial service.  We’ve asked for some timetables to be delivered to the Melbourn Hub, and you can look up the schedule here.

The example of and frequent connecting service to Cambridge and Royston should be the rule, not the exception – something that we hope the Mayor will be seeking to address using franchising powers designed for his office.


More volunteer effort has seen key public rights of way strimmed over the summer – always with the offer having come direct from local residents who enjoy walking local paths.  Any queries, please get in touch.


This pilot project has been going very well, with a few test runs in the past month by our team of four volunteers, including two residents from Royston, one from Melbourn and one from Foxton.  On its runs around Melbourn and the A10 path up to Harston, the team has collected a vast amount of dust and debris and tackled some residential streets that had not been visited for years. Thanks to Wyevale for helping out with storing the vehicle when needed.

A photo of the Community Sweeper at work on the A10 pedestrian/cycle path through Harston can be seen here.


If you’d like to know more about a part-time vacancy for the position of clerk at Shepreth Parish Council, please contact Ruth White, PC Chair, at


‘I am fundraising for Cam Sight because I lost a considerable amount of my sight in 2009, aged 19, whilst I was doing my A-Level exams. Cam Sight initially helped me with things such as teaching me to touch type and use screen reading software and they raised the funds to get a tandem that they loan to me, keeping my love for cycling alive. Cam Sight continued to support me with the forms I needed to get into university and some of their fantastic volunteers helped me by transcribing some interviews I recorded for my dissertation. Without their great help, I would have found it very difficult to graduate from Anglia Ruskin University in the summer of 2013 with a 2-1 in history. Since graduating from university, I have found employment and bought my own home. Cam Sight has played a significant role in helping me maintain the confidence and drive necessary to live a fulfilling and independent life.

‘Cam Sight supports visually impaired people in Cambridgeshire of any age and in whatever capacity necessary. Every year I hold a fundraising quiz and raffle to support them – this year on 8 September, doors open at 19:00 for 19:30 start, finishing at 22:30, at the Frank Lee Leisure Centre, Addenbrookes.  Teams of six, under 16s welcome! Tickets £5 per person – all money goes to Cam Sight. Free Parking at nearby Long Road Sixth Form College.  For tickets please contact me at,  tel 07939 181288.’



We’re receiving increasing calls for a safe pedestrian/cycle/scooter link between Melbourn and Royston, with a spike in demand arising from the train timetable failure and the need to get to Royston to connect to better services.

To continue raising awareness and for a bit of fun over the summer, a competition is on – all ages and abilities welcome to have a go!


‘Fancy a greener school or community space? Try our free tree packs for schools and community groups, to create a working wood, a wood for wildlife, a woodland harvest and more. Don’t have a lot of space? We’ve got hedging packs too, to provide valuable hedgerow habitats for a variety of species. Find out more here’.


All three of us are at the Melbourn Hub every first Monday of the month, 3-4PM

Susan is at the Limes Community Room Bassingbourn every third Monday of the month, 3-4PM –next on September 17th.

Occasionally we have to switch dates around – unfortunately the September date at Melbourn doesn’t work this time, but please contact us any time by phone or email and we’ll arrange another date to suit.


We would be delighted to address any concerns you may have or help raise awareness of issues affecting our community via this newsletter.


The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity.   Learn more about or join the Liberal Democrats here.

Sincerely yours,

Philippa, Jose and Susan


Philippa Hart, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 07811323571



Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 01763 221058



Susan van de Ven, County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon,, Tel 07905325574

Twitter: @susanvandeven



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